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Back to 'Basic' for Sharon Stone

The actress opens up her home to 'Dateline' and talks about on motherhood, divorce... and whether or not her new movie is too racy.

Sharon Stone is at home with her newest male lead — 10-month-old Laird, the younger of her two adopted sons.       

These days, Sharon’s first instinct may be maternal, but on the big screen she’s going back to basics. She’s returning to the role that catapulted her to stardom,  as Catherine Trammell, the carnivorous blonde with a penchant for ice picks. (Click here for video of the trailer of "Basic Instinct 2.")

Stone Phillips, Dateline anchor: What made you take the role again?Sharon Stone: Well, let’s face it. It’s a fun part. It’s a super challenging part.  For all that people wanted to say about her, “That’s just how she is,”  "Nobody’s just like that"—  I’m scared of her. She’s scary. She’s skinny, she’s gorgeous, she’s all-knowing.  She’s fabulous. She has great hair. I mean, just to get dressed up and go to the premiere, it’s like, "I can’t be her." I’m more like, “Do I have baby puke on me?”

Sharon invited us to her home in Beverly Hills for our interview. Her house is comfortably elegant, filled with photos of family and friends. On her coffee table, she’s displayed an Emmy and Golden Globe statuette. The screening room reflects Sharon's love of old Hollywood glamour.  And everywhere— from balls, to bats, to the backyard jungle gym— there are signs of the other loves of her life, her boys.

Sharon says she does some of her best work in this room.

Sharon Stone: I was a short order cook in a pool hall in college. So I am the fastest cook in the world.Stone Phillips: The last time we sat down together was the morning that you got your Oscar nomination for Casino. You were 38 years old. And you told me that things were about to get exciting because you were old enough to play the really good roles. Sharon Stone: Well, a lot has really happened.  It's been really interesting.  I got-- I kind of panicked after that. I just didn't know what to do, quite frankly. I kind of freaked out and quit the business.

In fact, Sharon says when she turned 40 the business quit her, as the good roles and the calls from movie studios dried up.

Sharon Stone: They were just like, you know, “You’re too old to star opposite ______.” Frankly, men that were 15 years older than me.  And I thought, “You know what?  I’m just not going to pretend that I’m not my age.”  Because a lot of actresses will just go, “I’m 35.” And I thought, “ I’m not doing that.” I like being 40.

'Maternal insticts'
Though Sharon’s film career was ebbing, her personal life was flowing very nicely. In 1998, she married newspaper executive Phil Bronstein and moved to San Francisco.  Two years later,  they adopted Roan, now 5 years old, and Sharon took on a role that for years she wasn’t sure was right for her.

Sharon Stone: I thought, “Will I have the right maternal instincts?”

Stone Phillips: Did you question that?Sharon Stone: I sure did.  And "boom," boy do you.  Stone Phillips: Is raising boys keeping you young?Sharon Stone: It is. They’re so active and they love to play ball and wrestle and run around and smash.  You know, I’ve had like a couple of black eyes. Stone Phillips: How do you think it changed you? Motherhood?Sharon Stone: I think when you love a child, it’s a different kind of love. You think, I love more everyday. I love more everyday, more everyday, I couldn’t possibly love any more, I’m going to blow up. And then you blow up.  Your chest actually starts to hurt. You love so much you think I can’t love any more.  And then you love so much more than you ever dreamed possible. 

Less pleasant life experiences
If motherhood’s been a blessing, but there have also been a couple of less pleasant life experiences for Sharon.  In 2001, she suffered a serious brain hemorrhage from which she’s recovered.  And two years ago, she was divorced, leaving her and her former husband to share custody of Roan.

Sharon Stone: It’s hard.  I don’t think anybody whose ever been divorced can tell you divorce is easy or fun or feels like anything other than a tremendous failure.  I think that anybody who would say, “Oh, yes, we’re having an amicable divorce…”

Stone Phillips: Can’t relate?Sharon Stone: Divorce is hard and painful and complicated, and something you have to grow through.  And I’m growing through it.Stone Phillips: What do you think you’ve learned about yourself?Sharon Stone: I’ve really learned not to try to take responsibility for all things.  And to keep my side of the street clean.

When her marriage ended, Sharon returned to Hollywood, hoping to jump start her career, wondering just how much of a career was left.

Stone Phillips: So the San Francisco chapter ended. What was your mindset? Did you started to re-immerse yourself into this world?Sharon Stone: Well, I kind of slunk back to L.A. I wondered, “How are people going to treat me?”

Age and Hollywood
And this time, Sharon discovered that age didn’t have to work against her.

Sharon Stone: Not only am I 40, I’m 40-whatever. When I got back, 44 or something. You know, how people say there’s no roles for women in their 40s? What I learned was there’s no roles for women who won’t be in their 40s.  For women who will be in their 40s, there’s a ton of work.

Leading roles were still hard to come by, but Sharon did some TV and landed some supporting parts. In “Cat Woman,” she played a villainous supermodel past her prime.

More recently, she turned in  a small, but poignant performance as one of Bill Murray’s former girlfriends in “Broken Flowers.”

Whatever the role, Sharon told us that these days she approaches her craft differently, in large part because of the health crisis she survived.  

Sharon Stone: The worse that could happen has already happened to me. You know what, I’m not going to sweat it on a movie set. So when I go to work now, I let her rip and I just let myself be free now.

'Basic Instinct 2'
In “Basic Instinct 2,” Sharon holds little back. 

Sharon Stone: First of all, I would say don’t be late to the theater.  The opening scene is a goody. (laughter)

It certainly is eye-catching— a pedal to the medal  joy ride that ends underwater with Sharon doing her own stunt work.

Sharon Stone:  I got in the water in 4-inch heels in this little dress and the jewelry and the thing. And as I go down, I’m realizing they’ve got all these lights under the water, and the car and the camera.  And I’m like, “I’m going to get electrocuted!”Stone Phillips: There’s a fair amount of skin in this film.Sharon Stone: Yes.Stone Phillips: Most of it yours.Sharon Stone: That’s true. Stone Phillips: Are you making a statement here? Sharon Stone: What?  Of me being nude? Well, I don’t think you can play Tramell and not be nude. Stone Phillips: Given all the good work that you have done in the fight against AIDS, did you have any qualms about the sexual recklessness that you portray in this film? Sharon Stone: No, because I’m playing a sociopath. I mean, I also have lots of thoughts about guns and if I was playing a bank robber, I’d have one.  You know, you play the characters that you’re in.  And you play them fully and completely. Stone Phillips:  Was an orgy scene critical to the movie?Sharon Stone:  Well, I think it was provocative and relevant to who the character is. I mean, I can’t go in and say, “I’m going to re-write the script to suit some personal need of mine.”Stone Phillips: But when you’re talking about AIDS, and people dying—and—Sharon Stone: What does that have to do with my film?  Nothing.Stone Phillips: Well that’s right, it doesn’t have anything to do with it. But seeing you in that scene and just knowing about your good work with AIDS, I just…Sharon Stone: Well, I have to say thank you. Because I’m glad that I’m having an effect. That you see me and you think I should put on a condom and be responsible about sex.

Her other projects... and what about love?
Sharon’s hoping something else will have an effect, too... a book to help people through the grieving process.  She wrote the text, her friend Mimi Craven took the pictures of graveyard angels.  All proceeds are going to AIDS research. 

In a more impromptu appeal, at last year's World Economic Forum, Sharon challenged the room to help the president of Tanzania stop the spread of malaria in his country. Sharon pledged $10,000, and in five minutes of impassioned pleading, she raised a million.

Raising money, and kids, making movies, and trying to make a difference in the world, Sharon told us she believes, at age 48, she can have it all. Which brings us to the elephant in the room: her love life.

Sharon Stone: I am ready for love but I'm not desperately seeking it. I've done an awful lot of trying to make everybody else okay and happy. I have learned, now it would really be ok to wait for someone who wants to be there for me and partner with me and I'm really looking forward to it...

So there just might be a little hope for a guy who logged on to our Web site with a question for Sharon.

Stone Phillips: Martin from San Diego wants to know, will you marry him?

Sharon Stone: Maybe. I don’t know.  Are you nice?  Do you have a job?  I don’t know, maybe. Stone Phillips:  In fairness to Marty, he did offer up some biographical detail on himself.Sharon Stone:  Okay good.  Thanks for asking Marty. You’re the only person that’s asked me lately.  That means, you’re in the running.  (laughs)